DEAR SOMEONE ELSE’S MOM: I knew since I was a kid my parents didn’t have a good marriage. I would see how my friends’ parents acted to each other compared to how my parents treated each other, and it made me sad for a very long time.
As I got older, I began to feel a little angry at my mother and father for not doing what I knew would be best for each of them by divorcing, or at least separating.
My parents were married when they were really young. Their marriage was arranged by their parents shortly after both families came to the U.S. from India.
Divorce is still not a thing for most Hindus, and my parents have kept true to their religion. That made it difficult for them to seriously consider divorce, especially since no one among their Indian friends and families is divorced.
After I graduated college and moved out of the house for good shortly after that, my mother called me to say she and my father were taking steps toward a legal separation.
Now they have begun divorce proceedings, which makes absolute sense to me. However, even though we all seem to know this is the right thing to do, each of my parents continues to try and pull me to their side, which I don’t get, since we all already agree they should not be together any longer.
When I visit my mother, she tries to get me to agree with her that my father is a terrible person, and that she is right to divorce him. She will then give me “messages” to carry to my father the next time I see him, and they are not generally the kinds of things I want to say to him, since it’s all about why she hates him. The same happens with my father when we are together.
I feel like I am caught in the middle of two 12-year-olds ending their first dating experience.
I am an only child, and I believe my parents are thinking what they are doing is justifying their divorce to me. I tell them I understand why they are better apart than together, but they appear to want to keep up their battle through me.
Why can’t they just end things and keep me out of it? --- LEAVE ME OUT OF IT
DEAR LEAVE ME OUT OF IT: I agree that it’s likely your parents feel the need to justify their dissolution of what’s long been an unhappy marriage to the only other person they see as directly affected by the split.
Because of their religion’s traditional view of divorce, I also believe both of your parents could be seeking additional support from you if they’re unsure how their divorce will be received by their faith community.
Hopefully, once everything is finalized, their attempts to use you as a messenger of vitriol will lessen, or better yet, end altogether.
However, since old habits die hard, this may be an overly optimistic expectation.